Although more than 40 million people In the United States with an anxiety disorder, it is still easy to understand. It may be because, like Suggests the National Alliance on Mental IllnessMost people suffer from anxiety from time to time. Life is stressful, and it’s normal to feel anxious about a major event or when a lot is going on. But anxiety disorder is complex, and understanding what it’s all about can ensure that more people get help. These are five common myths – and the truth about what really happens with anxiety.
Myth #1: Worry is all in your head
Truth: Anxiety is very real Physical reactions, albeit often muted which may include vibration, Sourceheart palpitations, nausea, and light-headedness, says Karen Sorwick, a psychiatrist with Psychology group in Manhattan. This is because fears and anxiety cause the body fight-or-flight response For jogging, it releases hormones that make your muscles tense and speed up your heartbeat and breathing. The The brain and gut share the connection Also, this is why feeling tense can upset your stomach and an upset stomach can make you feel jittery. one study It found that 44% of people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) had anxiety, compared to just 8% of those without IBS. All of this means that even if your fears aren’t likely to come true, they can cause a very real physical reaction.
myth #2: Anxiety is simply too worrying
the truth: Anxiety is part of worrying, but it’s not the whole ball game. Ordinary fears tend to be related to specific and realistic fears – losing a job, having your child bullied, missing out on a trip. In the meantime, the anxiety may not be based on rational fears and create intense emotional stress that can be felt in your body. Some anxiety is a good thing, but when it gets in the way of daily functions, it may be diagnosed as a disorder, he says Aaron Telens, a psychologist with the College of Psychologists of Alberta. Sometimes the fear isn’t specific – or it persists even after what you were worried about is over. For example, it’s common to be nervous before having a review with your boss, but focusing after the fact on something you said or on the outcome can be debilitating and may involve feeling lethargic, hyperventilating, sweating, and having trouble concentrating or sleeping. If anxiety has been interfering with your quality of performance at school, work, or home for weeks or months, it’s time to seek treatment, says Telns.
Myth 3: You should avoid situations that make you anxious
Fact: Although it’s a normal reaction, avoidance can make your anxiety worse. Anxiety expert says Halle Niditch, LCSW “Anxiety will insist on feeling it,” she says, and hiding from it can have secondary effects. Not talking in relationships, procrastinating, and avoiding social interactions or bills all have serious consequences,” she says. In fact, a common treatment for anxiety is the opposite of avoidance: exposure therapy. This works by helping people deal with their fears in a safe environment, says Telns — and by doing so, she learns they can deal with them. Sometimes the exposure is gradual, using virtual reality in the safety of a therapist’s office (eg taking a simulated flight to overcome a fear of flying) or out in the “real” world. Part of it is also learning ways to cope, such as acknowledging anxiety: “Saying to yourself, ‘Yes, I’m anxious; I feel it in my chest. I feel like I’m losing it, it sounds simple, but it can reduce symptoms instantly, and put you in a place to solve problems instead of denying reality,” says Neidich.
Myth 4: Social anxiety is like shyness
the truth: Shyness is more a personality trait, while social anxiety is a disorderAnd while shyness can be annoying, social anxiety disorder (sad) It can be exhausting. With shyness, you may find it difficult to talk to people you don’t know or to be the center of attention. When you have social anxiety disorder, you fear being watched, judged, or humiliated and may fear or avoid social situations for months. It’s easy to see how seasonal affective disorder can make it difficult to work: Someone with social anxiety disorder might worry that a cashier will ask them a question they can’t answer, and thus avoid buying food altogether, for example. And while the stress associated with shyness can cause physical symptoms — sweaty palms and jittery hands — people with social anxiety disorder may experience heightened fear responses such as body stiffness and a feeling that their mind is “going blank,” according to National Institute of Mental Health. Fortunately, research shows that people with social anxiety disorder are also Deal with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can have a recovery rate of close to 70%.
Myth 5: You can only get out of it
Fact: Just as someone can’t “get out” of cancer or diabetes, the same goes for anxiety. “This mindset is rooted in mental health stigma and the denial of mental health disorders as real medical issues,” says Neidich. While it’s sometimes healthy to temporarily set aside feelings of anxiety to get through a difficult situation, denying or suppressing anxiety isn’t a long-term plan—doing so can lead to outcomes like substance abuse, chronic health conditions, dysfunctional relationships, and insomnia, she says. “If you want to feel better, you will have to acknowledge your anxiety, feel your feelings, and learn the coping mechanisms,” Neidich adds. It can include stress reduction techniques such as exercise; memoirs. Relaxation exercises such as deep breathing, meditation and yoga. and CBT, which can help you challenge your reactions and fears and find healthier, more positive ways to address them, she says.
Kate Rockwood is a freelance writer based in New York.